The Methodist Council meeting at Methodist Church House in London, on 24-25 January 2011 discussed a damning new report on poverty, which indicates that there are an estimated 13.5 million people living in poverty in the UK.
They also heard that these levels are likely to increase to 16.8 million by 2014, and that the experience of living in poverty is likely to become worse as public services face increased financial pressure.
The Council expressed concern that the Government’s housing benefit reform should have at its heart the needs of vulnerable families and should seek to provide affordable homes for all, regardless of their means.
It also resolved the Church should work with other partners on this matter, including the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the United Reformed Church, Church Action on Poverty and Housing Justice.
The Rev Ken Howcroft, Secretary of the Methodist Council, commented: “Concern for the poor has always been at the heart of the Gospel message and many in our churches face the challenges of poverty, unemployment, debt and homelessness. If we wish to see less poverty, economic growth just isn’t enough. The story of the last twenty years is that the poor simply didn’t get their fair share.”
The Methodist Council also discussed the Church’s commitment to addressing climate change and voted to endorse Climate Week (21-27 March 2011) - a national week of positive action, seeking to offer an annual renewal of our ambition and confidence to combat climate change.
Council members spent time in groups looking at how the Church might better embrace cultural diversity, fostering understanding and spiritual growth in a society that is becoming increasingly multi-cultural.
Other matters covered by the Council's deliberations included Methodist involvement in various types of education, from the provision of schooling to chaplaincy, and how this might develop over the coming years.